Working hard, or hardly working

Getting the best out of remote working.

By Luke Achterstraat – CEO at Commtract.

Remote working has now opened to the masses and is no longer a privilege only afforded to freelancers, start-ups or trusted employees. With businesses opting to send workers home to combat the spread of COVID-19, organisations big and small are having to continue their operations at a distance.

However, it’s not just employees who may benefit from the new flexible working arrangement. According to a recent study, remote workers are more productive than onsite teams, working an additional 16.8 days per year. Despite concerns that limited oversight will encourage employees to do the washing instead of replying to emails, one study found that 48 percent of people who work from home complete longer hours.

As organisations of increasing scale and size transition to a completely new operating model, it’s no longer just about productivity, it’s also about maintaining a thriving culture and ensuring employees, contractors, freelancers and consultants feel connected and valued.

Whether you’re opting or being mandated to work from home, here’s what you can do to get the most out of the COVID-19 lock down:


Loneliness is one of the main concerns sited by those working from home. Regardless of whether you’re an introvert or extravert, loneliness over long periods of time can cause employees to feel a lack of “belonging” within their organisation

Psychologist, Meredith Fuller, recommends scheduling a phone or video meeting in your day to provide a sense structure and remove these feelings of isolation.

Another consideration is the inability for colleagues to read body language or identify tone through online communication. Where information is complicated or sensitive, try to connect over video to remove any misunderstandings.

Fostering trust

Creating and maintaining a strong workplace culture is essential for the success of teams working remotely.

Harvard Business Review contributor, Sean Grabber, explains that there are two types of trust, cognitive and affective. Addressing communication and coordination issues will help foster cognitive trust, but affective trust is based on feeling and is, therefore, difficult to develop virtually.

Since face-to-face meetings will become increasingly difficult, easy-to-use platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams, which act as a virtual water cooler, will assist in building trust within your team.

Do you need additional resources?  

In an era of fake news, employees are increasingly relying on businesses as their main source of information.  When it comes to Coronavirus, recent research conducted by Edelman confirmed this, finding employers were the most credible source of information, above governments and the media.

Considering employees are expecting regular updates and agile changes to workplace policies, businesses may want to consider whether they need additional resources to manage this period of change. For example, internal communications experts can assist time-poor executives drafting and distributing business updates and communications.

For businesses to survive and then thrive in this new remote working environment, they will need to be agile and thoughtful about how they will effectively communicate to maximise productivity, trust and connectedness. Done well, the rewards are high – you might even find once the virus subsides you won’t switch back.

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